Pyro's Grand Demise
The fiery explosion is grand to say the least. At first it makes a popping sound, then all hell breaks loose. Instead of looking away like any good-natured human would, I watch intently as Fordham is engulfed in flames. It’s so quick I don’t even think he suffered.
The people surrounding him, however, only catch licks of flame which quickly spread across their clothing. Humans are shrieking, and I watch with satisfaction as the woman client’s boa glows up like Christmas lights twined around her neck. Her high-pitched voice somehow grows shriller as she screams.
Some humans run for the single fire extinguisher which sits mounted against the far wall. It’s strange how much time they waste fighting over it when there are currently people who need it immediately. Some fall over themselves on their way to the exits like rats in a maze.
The stench of smoke and charred flesh grows unbearable, and I have little doubt the police will be on their way momentarily. Law enforcement stays out of this part of town up until a wealthy elitist calls 911 from said location. Were it an actual local to the area, well, it would take an extra twenty minutes for help to arrive.
Satisfied with my death, I rise from my haunches and ignore the ache in my knee. Now that I think about it, replacing my knee should wait until after I get my hand checked out. Witnessing what could happen has made me uneasy.
I scuttle over to the edge of the roof where the drainpipe is and slide down with ease. Being a blue-type model of cyborg makes me incredibly aerobatic due to a focus on my upper body strength. Unfortunately being a blue-type also means I’m short, which admittedly makes sneaking around easier while also making high shelves my main weakness.
I think being close to the ground somehow makes me have better coordination as well. Sure, ballerinas are tall, but you don’t exactly see them grappling on the ground or climbing buildings. Their expertise is to look elegant, whereas mine is to get the job done efficiently.
My feet silently hit the broken pavement and I immediately pull up my hood before stalking off in the direction of several alleyways. I need to get out of the immediate area and lay low for the night. In the morning I’ll slap on some makeup and a wig before stuffing my most precious belongings into a backpack. Then I’m hightailing it out of this city, preferably by train so I can blend in with the many.
The Wharf isn’t the only abandoned warehouse in the area. Many of them are sporadically placed along the bay, mixed in with foreclosed apartment buildings and hotels. There are, of course, nicer areas alongside the water farther north and south. It’s only this area which appears dilapidated, mostly due to the fact that it was more or less owned by a family who fell on their luck. It’s difficult for entire communities to be owned by a single wealthy last name, because when they’re bankrupt, everyone is bankrupt.
I don’t feel the chill in the air thanks to my moderated temperature system, but clouds still brush past my lips as I exhale. I look backward one last time at the warehouse. The whole place will soon be in flames if someone hasn’t already put that fire extinguisher to good use. I wonder if Fordham ever bothered to check its expiration. Probably not.
When I pivot to continue on my way, I run into something hard, which is saying something since I have entire limbs made of metal. I frown at the tall figure standing before me, hands twitching toward the daggers strapped to my thighs. I’d rather not use guns and draw attention, especially since I can now hear sirens wailing in the distance.
“What the fuck?” I say to the masked person. Masks are pretty common, especially for cyborgs. We like to remain anonymous during our jobs.
I analyze the man’s exposed features and come up with the man’s identity a moment before he lowers his mask. It’s the technician who developed the robot for me.
“Okay,” I drawl, unimpressed, “I get that you wanted to see the fireworks of your latest project, but I think we can both agree it was a dumb decision for you to show up. If you’re caught and interrogated, this whole charade could be put on the line. And I paid you too much money to fuck up.”
He watches me with those stoic caramel eyes, then says, “If you want your little secret to remain a secret, I suggest you come with me.”
I blink at him. “Huh? Are you smoking the plant or something?”
The corners of his mouth turn downward just slightly. “No, I am not high.”
I let out a dry laugh. It sounds almost like a cough. “Wow, then I must be delusional because I’m hearing some pretty funny shit right now. Why on God’s gray earth would I come with you? What, you think you can hustle me just because you have some dirt on me?”
He looks over his shoulder then shrugs. “It’s pretty simple. You either follow me now or I release to the world that Pyro, a murderous blue-type cyborg with flamestarting deficiencies, is still alive. I’m guessing that stunt cost at least three people to die tonight, so you would be a very sought-after criminal. Especially because you’re a cyborg.”
Deficiencies. I want to stab him in the eye. “You don’t have proof.”
He holds up a miniature projector called a Jester. It displays images and video directly above its smooth surface. It must be an old model because it only projects in blues and purples.
My frown deepens as I watch the security footage of me in his workshop. I’m clearly helping him design something, although the video is too grainy to decipher exactly what. He then fast forwards a day and I’m obviously ecstatic over what appears to be an exact clone of me. Shit. How had I not noticed the camera?
“You would be turning yourself in,” I point out.
He shrugs again and the movement is so casual I want to scream. He’s playing with my life here and acts like it’s no big deal. “I’m not really concerned about that. My life is already over if you don’t come with me, so don’t assume I have anything to lose.”
Ah, so he’s desperate. Almost as bad as crazy because people have little to nothing they wouldn’t do in such a state.
“You know I could just kill you,” I say. I’m already thinking of how I should do it, and the tips of my fingertips itch for my knives.
“I thought you would say that,” he says solemnly before holding up a small black box. It looks like a remote control.
“A cyborg taser?” I say mockingly. “Do you really think something like that is capable of stopping a blue-type?” I’d be surprised if it could stop an orange type.
“I’ve done some modifications to it,” is all he says.
The man is obviously a technological genius. I saw firsthand what happened in the warehouse, so I should know. Still, the idea of a measly cyborg taser stopping me bruises my ego enough to raise my hackles. I take a step closer and remove my second favorite knife. It’s serrated.
Like a predator closing in on its prey, I slowly approach the man. He’s taller than me, so I'll have to crane my neck to stare him in the eyes as I kill him. I think I’ll go for the jugular. “Try me,” I dare.
With a quick flick of the wrist, I’m abruptly bringing the knife up towards his neck. Then I feel an incredibly painful sensation bloom along my torso. I distantly feel myself fall to the ground and am attacked by spasms as my body tries to work the excess electricity out of itself.
That really fucking hurt.
He looks down at me with his mouth slightly upturned. It’s the first time I’ve seen him smile and it enrages me. “Now, I’m going to give you a second chance,” he says while holding up the remote to ensure I know he still has it at the ready. “Are you coming with me or am I leaving you here and reporting the security footage to the nearest police station? Keep in mind, those are sirens in the distance.”
I scowl at him. I heard the sirens ages ago, but of course he's only now hearing them. Pathetic humans and their even more pathetic bodies. I burn at the thought of him doing this to me.
There’s obviously only one choice, so when he holds out his hand I take it.
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